Article

Drawing From Memory Booktalk

  • Grades: 6–8

Have you ever wondered how someone becomes an artist? How they decide their path? Who helps them; who hurts them?

Award-winning children's book illustrator Allen Say knew from a very young age that when he was drawing, he was happy. Growing up in Japan during World War II wasn't easy. To make matters worse, Allen's parents divorced and no one in his family wanted him to be an artist. But all Allen wanted was to be an artist. He spent as much time as he could drawing things he saw, things he imagined, and drawing other people's drawings.

When Allen was just about 13, he read a curious story in the newspaper. A boy, only three years older than he, had walked 350 miles to Tokyo to ask for a cartoonist job at a local newspaper. Noro Shinpei, the most famous cartoonist in Japan (and Allen's favorite) was so impressed that he made the young man his student.

After reading that article, Allen could not stop thinking about being Shinpei’s student. Allen had to find out. Shinpei's answer could decide Allen's future as an artist — the only future he had ever wanted.

  • Subjects:
    Arts and Creativity, Japanese and Japanese American, World War II, Individuality
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